Prosperity or Hardship? Which is worse?
While in deep thought yesterday, I was contemplating God's testing and trials in life we all face and my current spiritual condition as it relates to walking with the Lord. A small confession; lately it's been a struggle to do away with my thinking and desires and tune into the Lord. I was thinking about how blessed I am and the prosperity God has put in my life both physically and spiritually. I was thinking to myself about the countless Christians around the world who are enduring pains physically, emotionally, mentally, monetarily, etc. I thought to myself "comparatively speaking, I don't know what is to suffer hardship, like so many do." To a degree I do but not to the extent.
I thought to myself; "I have no excuses for being so spiritually numb right now. Why am I struggling so?" I reflected back; the times I felt closest to Jesus in my life was when I was going through the worst times of my life; on the road to recovery, so to speak. I looked back on my life in the not so distant past and realized that, when I committed to follow Jesus I was a mess. A down right mess! I had problems with addiction. I was over weight by 35 lbs. I was dependent on anti-depressants (SSRI's and anxiety meds). I was a bad father and a worse husband. My thought life was atrocious my self esteem was even worse and yet it was in this time I experienced Jesus so close I could almost touch the hem of His robe. I had many profound experiences with Him too precious to share on this blog and yet I was in a state of real struggle, especially due to coming off SSRI's. The only words I can describe that time in my life that could come close to accurately depicting it are, "Soul Crushing Times" and yet I felt so close to the Lord I could feel His embrace. As Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities; "it was the best of times and the worst of times." I long to feel His embrace in such a way again but loath the personal suffering and anguish and to be honest never want to experience that level of suffering again. Jesus has set me free!
One thought led to another and I found myself thinking a truth that is prevalent for most everyone who comes to Christ. It is in that moment of desperation and extreme circumstances or more simply said "Brokenness" that most come to Christ. This is true of myself and everyone I personally know who have accepted Jesus. Very rarely if at all does anyone immersed in prosperity and smooth water come to Christ. Think about it. What need is there? Incidentally, I personally believe this is a major reason if not the reason it is so hard to share Jesus in the US.
It was at this point I felt the Holy Spirit say to me "prosperity is as much as a test as hardship". Wow... upon reflecting on this statement I recalled an excerpt from a sermon of which I cannot recall it's title but I do recall who it was who preached it. Derek Prince, one of my favorite Biblical teachers once said "very few examples exist in the Bible of people who have passed the test of success". I think of King Solomon for example. The wisest man who ever lived, save the Lord Himself; failed the test of prosperity along with countless others. Ask yourself this question and think on it hard. If $10 million dollars fell in your lap today; could you remain faithful to the Lord and not get side tracked down some rabbit trail of your own making?
If God solved all our problems right now, what good would it do us? What would you learn of any eternal consequences? Is this what Jesus meant when He said "I council you to buy from me gold tried in the fire"? (Revelation 3:18) There is no doubt God wants His children to prosper according to His word but God's definition of "prosper" and the world's definition are entirely different definitions. In His timing and under His watchful eye as gold tried in the fire.
Some of the most Godless people on earth are those who according to world standards are prosperous. If you don't believe me then just turn on the TV. So I ask the question; what is the harder test, prosperity or hardship?
God bless and Glory Jesus!